S’poreans use SkillsFuture Credit mostly for ICT courses

Published: 4:00 AM, January 9, 2017
Updated: 12:08 PM, January 9, 2017

SINGAPORE — More than 126,000 Singaporeans — about one in 20 eligible citizens — used their SkillsFuture Credit to upskill or reskill last year, with information and communications technology (ICT) courses in greatest demand across all age groups.

In an update released yesterday, government agency SkillsFuture Singapore said Singaporeans in the 25-to- 29 age group used the highest amount of their SkillsFuture Credit, averaging nearly S$400 per person.

Each Singaporean aged 25 and above was given S$500 in credit they could use from the beginning of last year, in the Government’s bid to promote lifelong learning.

SkillsFuture utilisation was fairly even across age groups, with the 60-and-above age group making up 23 per cent of those who tapped their accounts, followed by the 50-to-59 and 30-to-39 age groups making up 21 per cent each. The 25-to-29 age group made up 16 per cent of those who tapped their accounts.

SkillsFuture Singapore said younger Singaporeans enrolled for ICT courses in emerging areas such as data analytics, while older Singaporeans acquired more fundamental ICT skills such as basic computer functions. Other popular areas of training were in language skills, productivity and innovation, and security and investigation.

Dr Timothy Chan, director of SIM Global Education’s academic division, said ICT courses were probably in demand because the currency of knowledge and cycle of competency in the sector is “very short”.

Emerging areas in the sector include cyber security, big data and fintech, and both supply of and demand for ICT training are present, he said.

Asked about earlier concerns voiced by some people that there may be inertia in SkillsFuture Credit usage, Dr Chan said: “It’s always difficult and challenging when a new initiative comes up — how the procedure goes, how to make claims ... the supply and demand side may not be mature.”

Said OCBC economist Selena Ling: “As familiarity with the scheme grows, and (given) the fact that there are more courses made available, I think it’s a good sign the take-up is improving. Of course, the ideal is if they can reach 100 per cent of the eligible population — that would be fantastic.” She added that the popularity of ICT courses was in line with the Government’s Smart Nation push.

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, proved popular among those under age 40, said SkillsFuture Singapore. They formed the majority of the 6 per cent of those who used their SkillsFuture Credit on MOOCs.

The three most popular MOOCs covered the Master of Business Administration, the Python programming language and Web development.

The number of training courses eligible for SkillsFuture Credit also increased from more than 10,000 in January last year, to over 18,000 by December.

There are over 700 training providers, including Udemy, Coursera, SIM University, the National University of Singapore and the Institute of Technical Education. Neo Chai Chin